Ascent of Gunung Tahan on 2022-06-22

Climber: Rob Woodall

Others in Party:Deividas Valaitis -- Trip Report or GPS Track
Daniel Quinn
Pravin VJ
John Hargreaves
Date:Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Gunung Tahan
    Elevation:7175 ft / 2186 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mandatory 5 day guided ascent, permit needed. Well defined trail, quite tough, very muddy after day 1, minimal leeches, maximal bureaucracy, some long delays, ideally hike early morning to avoid afternoon rain, luckily we had minimal rain. In practice we took 4 days (you pay for 5). With the first night at Kubang (small camp site, poor water supply), 3 days should work for a strong group, if a reasonably early start could be made on day 1. 4 days is probably normal for an experienced motivated party.

The day before, we assembled at Merapoh Adventure Homestay, roomy and good facilities, an ideal base, was 300MYR for sole occupancy.

Day 1, 8km to Kem Kor, 4h30 including stops.
Day 2, 9km, 3h to Kubang, 1h to Vee, 1h30 to Bonsai, 1h to Kem Botak, total 8h including breaks.
Day 3, 1km, 0h45 to summit. Our party's Kem Botak to Kem Kor descent times ranged from 5h30 to 10hrs!
Day 4, Descent to trailhead, 8km, times varied between 3h30 and 5h30.

First morning is admin, all items have to be counted, especially plastic wrappers. All items taken in have to be taken out, no littering, items missing at end of hike may attract fines. Eventually we're loaded onto a 4x4 and driven (on a good paved road!) to the Kuala Juram trailhead, and after more unexplained waiting, at 1115 we start hiking. Trailhead sign states the official trail distance, 32km, although it's only 18km (we've driven 14km ...).

The hike itself is nice, on well defined trail, thru nice forest, initially crossing river on wobbly suspension bridge then 4 fords, the deepest thigh deep. We enjoy the bird and cicada calls. A nice waterfall. Dan spots a golden cat, rarely sighted. We're at Kem Kor campsite in 4h30 including longish breaks. Mostly dry hike although last hour to camp is heavy rain. Leisurely afternoon drinking, eating, chatting until mid evening, listening to ever changing cicada chorus, then loooong night in tent.

Kem Kor is used on the descent too, hence quite busy. It's perhaps good for the guides to be able to socialise, but would be more efficient to spend the first night higher up at Kubang, assuming a reasonable hiking pace, and this would mean a more tranquil evening, and potentially a day less duration.

Day 2 we're advised to be ready around 0630, for hiking 0700 latest. We eventually leave after 8 with the guide ready in the proverbial 5 minutes, to catch us up, which he does. Dry morning, trail steeper, sections of easy rooty rope protected scrambling, couple of boulder hop stream crossings. 3 slowish hours to Kubang, a very muddy hour to Vee where we have lunch, a steep 1h30 to Bonsai camp, 1hr to Kem Botak, the mud at last giving way to dry quartzy rock. Large group already setting up camp, their day 5 of 7 on east west traverse, impressively including some young children. No rain all day, until briefly late afternoon at camp.

Day 3, 0515 start, trail initially rocky, muddy once the gradient eases, trail continues beyond Tahan camp, summit at 0600 an hour before sunrise, trig mark on outcrop, with its beiruit (metal witches hat roof) collapsed in vegetation, also a second (assume auxiliary) bolt on nearby outcrop. Summit in and out of cloud, intermittent views, sun rises above a bank of cloud. The low vegetation of the summit area hosts large colony of pitcher plant, pale coloured, also orchids.

Breakfast back at Kem Botak, depart 0945, back down to Kem Kor. Sunny morning, dry until dark. Our party's Kem Botak to Kem Kor descent times ranged from 5h30 to 10hrs! A little rain overnight.

Day 4, leisurely descent. Times varied between 3h30 and 5h30. Driven back to park office, our belongings quickly checked against our checklists. Then back to Merapoh Adventure Homestay which luckily is free this evening.

Dan and I both had (one-day) stomach problems on the descent, as did half of the guides on the route at the time. Something in the water, perhaps: the higher camps have poor water sources and it's a busy route.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:8486 ft / 2586 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1969 ft / 600 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Headlamp, Guide, Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:8486 ft / 2586 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 6517 ft / 1986 m; Extra: 1969 ft / 600m
    Loss on way in:1969 ft / 600 m
    Distance:22.4 mi / 36 km
    Start Trailhead:658 ft / 200 m
Descent Statistics
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Rob Woodall
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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